Thái Thanh

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Thái Thanh
Phạm Thị Băng Thanh

(1934-08-05)August 5, 1934
DiedMarch 17, 2020(2020-03-17) (aged 85)
NationalityVietnamese, American
Years active1947–2002
Known forVietnamese pop icon
Notable workTrường ca Hòn Vọng Phu, Thiên Thai, Mẹ Việt Nam, Tình hoài hương.
SpouseLê Quỳnh
Children Ý Lan, Quỳnh Hương, Lê Xuân Việt, Lê Đại
Relatives Phạm Đình Chương, Thái Hằng, Phạm Duy
Musical career
OriginHanoi, Saigon
Genres Tân nhạc
LabelsContinental, Diem Xua production, Thuy Nga

Thái Thanh (born Phạm Thị Băng Thanh; August 5, 1934 – March 17, 2020) was a Vietnamese-American singer. She was one of the most iconic singers of the Western-influenced popular music in Vietnam, known as 'New music of Vietnam' (Tân nhạc). [1]


Early and family life

Thái Thanh was born in 1934 in the village of Bạch Mai, Hanoi, in an artistic-traditioned family. Her father, Phạm Đình Phụng, had 2 wives - the first one gave birth to Phạm Đình Sỹ and Phạm Đình Viêm; the second one gave birth to Phạm Thị Quang Thái (Thái Hằng), Phạm Đình Chương, and Phạm Thị Băng Thanh.

Thái Thanh started her career before the First Indochina War when she was 14 years old, without any formal music education. She learned about singing from her informal knowledge of northern Vietnamese folk songs and French music books, which she later fused in her performances. [2]

She was a member of her family-based band, Thăng Long, one of the first widely known music bands in Vietnam during the 20th century. She began her solo career and adopted her stage name Thái Thanh in 1950. [2] Her older sister Phạm Thị Quang Thái was a famous singer under the stage name Thái Hằng, and her older brother Phạm Đình Chương was a prominent musical figure and singer under the stage name Hoài Bắc. [2] Her brother-in-law was the leading songwriter Phạm Duy, who was married to Thái Hằng. [2]

In 1956, Thái Thanh married Lê Quỳnh, and they had three daughters and two sons together: Ý Lan (1957), Lê Việt (1958), Quỳnh Dao (1960), Thanh Loan (1962) and Lê Đại (1964). [3]


Thái Thanh later gained her prestige in the record industry and pop culture in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. She was famous for her performances of works by musicians including Đặng Thế Phong, Lê Thương, Văn Cao, Dương Thiệu Tước, Phạm Đình Chương, and especially Phạm Duy, her brother-in-law, with whom she had a long-lasting collaboration. Some of her most well-known songs, written by Phạm Duy, were Dòng sông xanh, Cho nhau, Nương chiều, Bà mẹ Gio Linh and Kỷ niệm. [3]

During the early 1970s, she and Thăng Long band regularly performed at the Đêm màu hồng (Pink Night) nightclub. [4]

After 1975, Thái Thanh was banned from performing publicly due to her refusal to cooperate with the communist government of Vietnam. [5] In 1985, she emigrated and became part of the Vietnamese musical diaspora in Orange County, California. [6]

Thái Thanh continued her music career amongst the Vietnamese community in the United States and Canada. In 2000, she suffered a brain haemorrhage, and announced her retirement in 2002, after 55 years of contribution to the music industry and pop culture of Vietnam throughout the 20th century. However, she did continue to appear on the music scene sporadically. [2]

In 2005, an event named "Vinh danh Thái Thanh, tiếng hát vượt thời gian" (In honor of Thái Thanh, the timeless singer) was held in Montreal, Canada. The event was participated by Thái Thanh and many other famous singers of the next generation - including Tuấn Ngọc, Ý Lan, Trần Thu Hà, etc. [7] In 2006, she returned in the event "Thái Thanh và ba thế hệ" (Thái Thanh - three generations). [4]

Thái Thanh's unique style of singing combined Tonkinese folk music, French popular music, and Western opera. This pioneering singing style, had a significant impact on many younger singers and artists even after the Fall of Saigon.[ citation needed ]


Thái Thanh died on March 17, 2020, in Orange County, California. [8] In 2017, according to her eldest daughter Ý Lan, she had been in very poor health. [3] According to the government-run newspaper Tuoi Tre , her voice was the most archetypal of Tân nhạc, and that she was 'a voice that spanned generations'. [2] It described her death as a 'great loss' for Vietnamese music. [2]

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  1. Stewart Lone Daily Lives of Civilians in Wartime Asia: From the Taiping ... 2007- Page 235 "As in many societies in the 1960s–1970s, recorded music came to play an increasing role in the daily lives of civilians with the ... One of the most famous singers in the more traditional style was Thái Thanh, a woman in her twenties who sang songs of longing and loss."
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Giọng hát vượt thời gian Thái Thanh qua đời ở Mỹ, hưởng thọ 86 tuổi". Tuoi Tre . March 18, 2018. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  3. 1 2 3 Hoàng Yến (March 18, 2018). "Danh ca Thái Thanh qua đời". Zing. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  5. Thái Thanh Tiếng hát Vang vọng giữa Trời Xuân
  6. Adelaida Reyes Songs of the Caged, Songs of the Free: Music and the Vietnamese Refugee Experience. 1999 Page 124 "The local in this case has global implications. Many of Vietnam's most famous musicians now reside in Orange County. The presence of Pham Duy, Thai Thanh, Hoang Oanh, Hoang Thi Tho, Viet Hung, Duy Khanh, Khanh Ly, and Kim Tuyen, among others — luminaries in the Vietnamese musical firmament by the time they left Vietnam — has led overseas.."
  8. "Danh ca Thái Thanh qua đời - VnExpress Giải Trí". (in Vietnamese). Retrieved March 18, 2020.